Paulinho the blueprint signing for powerful Spurs

Posted by Dan Fitch

If you believe the rumours (and as Spurs fans we really should have learned not to by now), the club is about to meet the buyout clause for the Corinthians midfielder Paulinho.

From the little I've seen of him he looks like a fine player -- the type that could both complement Sandro and step into his shoes when he suffers his annual long-term injury.

While Paulinho is capable of playing the defensive midfielder role, there is much more to his game. The Brazilian football expert Jack Lang has likened him to Bryan Robson, due to his all-action style, surging runs into the box and aerial ability.

The more I read about Paulinho, the more I notice that words like 'powerful' and 'strength' are always used to describe his play. A midfield trio of Paulinho, Sandro and Moussa Dembele is an exciting prospect -- three players all able to interchange with one another and who would surely outmuscle most opponents.

Power is fast becoming an important part of this Tottenham team. Look at the players Spurs have signed since last summer. Emmanuel Adebayor, Dembele, Clint Dempsey, Hugo Lloris, Gylfi Sigurdson and Jan Vertonghen all came in during the summer window, along with Steven Caulker and Kyle Naughton, who returned from loans. To a man they are all big, strong players.

Lewis Holtby came in January and even he is almost 5' 10" and has room to fill out a little. I'm not suggesting that Tottenham are following Tony Pulis in only recruiting giants (the importance of Aaron Lennon and the interest in the 5' 4" Bernard disproves that) but it seems that they are intent on building a squad that truly has strength in numbers.

I've just taken a look at the Porto team that Andre Villas-Boas managed to Europa League success in 2011. The starting XI that AVB picked included just one player that could be described as short -- a certain Joao Moutinho, who should now be a Spurs player himself, if the club hadn't bungled the deal.

The next smallest player was Radamal Falcao at 5' 10". Silvestre Varela and Hulk are 5' 11", while the rest of the team all stood over six-foot. That Porto team were able to steamroller sides, breaking quickly, to swiftly switch play from defence to attack.

We saw Tottenham replicate that at times last season. The personnel wasn't quite there to pull off a carbon copy however. When Scott Parker gets the ball these days, he's more likely to slowly turn around in a circle and pass the ball five yards square, than to swiftly switch play from defence to attack.

Whether Spurs get their hands on Paulinho or not, the fact that he seems to be the central midfielder that the club are after, demonstrates the direction that the squad is going in.

The bulk of the players at Tottenham next season will be big, fast and skillful. That hasn't always been the case. Spurs are a team that when I was growing up, had a reputation for being brittle and were dismissed as 'Southern softies' by the dominant teams from the North of England.

Now, less powerful players such as Lennon and Tom Carroll (and hopefully Bernard and David Villa, next season) will be firmly in the minority. Small is indeed beautiful, but in the bully-boy world of the Premier League, it never hurts for the little guys to look around when they're in trouble and see nine six-footers backing them up.

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